Friday, November 30, 2012

How to Spot a Digital Immigrant

Your neighbors in Palo Alto
How do you spot a spy? 

During WWII, Britain’s M-5 suggested that if an enemy spy was living next door, he would be young, fit, have a slightly odd cut to his clothing and eat strange chocolates.  Watch, too, for a scar or limp, M-5 said, since parachuting from airplanes was treacherous business in the 1940s.

How about today?  WikiHow (To Do Anything) suggests that you might have a spy next door if the person is educated, physically strong and highly intelligent (unless you live in Palo Alto, in which case that’s just your neighbor).   Also, look for an intermittent work history (unless you live in Silicon Valley, in which case that may be your next boss).

It seems spies, despite their best efforts, almost always give themselves away.

Once upon a time, digital immigrants were easy as pie to spot, like knowing that the guy with shorts and black socks, complaining that he didn't get enough ice in his drink in the Paris bistro was, well, an American.

You might recall not many years ago the person who didn't own a computer, "and I don’t see any need for one, either.  I can keep my recipes in a box, thank you.”  Today, that person is perfecting his or her shuffleboard.

There was, you might remember, the CEO who had his secretary print all of his email so he could answer each message by hand, or perhaps by dictation.  (For you Gen Xer’s, write me and I’ll explain “dictation.”  Gen Yer’s, write me and I’ll explain the concept of a “secretary.”  Those younger, write and I'll explain "email.")  This was the same person with a wall of Rolodex across his desk, the prequel to the LinkedIn LION with 10,000 close, personal associates.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's one of the great old advertisements featured in Weathermakers to the World, a good reminder (1942-style) of how much there is to be thankful for.  (Including, but not limited to, family, friends, good work, health, and the fact that I can end a sentence in a preposition if it sounds better, or write a parenthetical fragment, when there's no editor watching.)  Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Porcelain and a Close Shave: The Wisdom of Crowdfunding

The Battle of the Viaduct in Chicago, part of the
Great Railroad Strike of 1877
In 1894, a traveling salesman for the Crown Cork and Seal company rose to sudden fame with the publication of his book, The Human Drift.  In it, he argued that capital and labor had become irretrievably divided over the last 20 years and “hard times are here to stay.”  The 29-year-old author, like many Americans, had been rattled by a seemingly endless series of economic recessions accompanied by rising discontent in the form of violent strikes and riots.  

The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 against the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, for example, shook the country when it spread from Philadelphia to Chicago and on to San Francisco--America’s first national strike.   The Homestead Strike at Andrew Carnegie’s Pittsburgh steel plant in 1892 left seven Pinkerton detectives and nine steelworkers dead.  The Pullman strike of 1894, in response to the company cutting its workforce from 5,500 to 3,300 and wages by an average of 25%, was yet another unexpected and unsettling milestone in the rise of a strong national labor movement.  

Taken as a whole, more people were injured or killed in labor protests in the U.S. than any other nation in the twenty years after 1876.